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TB@SEA: Pineda fans 10 over 6 1/3 strong frames

SEATTLE -- While the Mariners may be struggling this season, Saturday afternoon's game against the Rays proved that the future may be much different.

Rookie Michael Pineda had a career-high 10 strikeouts and gave up just one hit in 6 1/3 innings of work, while fellow rookie Dustin Ackley played a part in all of Seattle's runs in a 3-2 win -- its first at home since July 3 -- over Tampa Bay in front of 24,985 at Safeco Field.

Pineda bounced back from three tough outings -- he gave up 19 earned runs in that span -- including last Sunday in Boston, where he gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. He became the seventh rookie in Mariners history to strike out 10 or more batters in a game.

"It was a little different, because I made an adjustment in the first inning," the 6-foot-7 Pineda said. "I threw hard the first inning and threw my secondary pitches. ... I threw a couple more changeups and my slider today was nasty."

Mariners reliever Jeff Gray pitched two innings of no-hit ball, while Brandon League picked up his 24th save, and first since the Fourth of July. Seattle's bullpen has thrown 8 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball in the last two games.

Pineda was throwing heat from the beginning, with his fastball reaching the mid-90s. Though he didn't give up a hit until the sixth inning, the Rays put up a run in the fourth. Johnny Damon walked, stole second, advanced to third on a Josh Bard throwing error and scored on Ben Zobrist's groundout.

The only other blip on an otherwise dominating performance from Pineda came in the sixth. He hit Sean Rodriguez, who moved over to third after a sacrifice and a ground out. Zobrist then broke up Pineda's no-hit bid with an RBI single just over the glove of second baseman Jack Wilson into right field.

The 22-year-old said he wasn't really concerned about the no-hitter.

"I want to pitch my game, inning by inning. First out, second out, three outs, that's it," Pineda said. "The base hit didn't bother me. It's OK. I attacked the next hitter and finished that inning."

Other than the unusual earned run, the rookie had his stuff going and picked up his first win since July 4. Pineda (9-7, 3.53 ERA) threw 110 pitches, 64 of them for strikes.

"Michael set the tone early," manager Eric Wedge said. "He really was consistent throughout and did a fantastic job of controlling the ballgame."

Ackley continued to show why he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The 23-year-old crushed a two-run jack on a 3-2 pitch over the center-field wall -- the deepest part of Safeco Field -- for his fifth home run of the year to give the Mariners an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.

After Zobrist's RBI tied the game at 2 in the sixth, Ackley was at it again in the bottom half of the frame. This time, he ripped a double off the center-field wall and Mike Carp -- another rookie -- singled down the first-base line to drive home Ackley for the eventual game-winning run.

Both hits came on a full count, and Ackley said he likes facing a pitcher with the count at 3-2.

"That's a count you know the guy is going to throw something over the plate and not walk you," said Ackley, who is now hitting a team-best .310. "I took advantage of a couple pitches that he gave me to hit and found some holes and hit the homer and the double."

Ackley already has 17 extra-base hits this season in just 130 at-bats. He has 40 hits in 35 games and is looking to become just the fifth Mariners rookie to average a hit per game.

Other than troubles with Ackley, Rays starter Alex Cobb was impressive, going 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine. He fell to 3-1 on the year.

"Honestly, it was just Ackley," Cobb said. "He's battled me well for two years now going back to Double-A and the Fall League. He must just see me well, but I've always had a little trouble with him."

It was Ackley, Carp and Pineda -- all rookies -- that essentially won Saturday's game. Wedge said that while he wants his veterans to pick it up offensively, it's promising to watch the young players succeed.

"We'll continue to do what we have to do to be a better ballclub, but ultimately moving toward the future," Wedge said. "Whether the future is tomorrow, next week, next month or next year, the young kids are what you're building with and that you're trying to answer questions about. They are the key as you move forward." Comments